Business

Grab in talks to merge Indonesian payment firms: Sources

JAKARTA: SoftBank-backed ride-hail operator Grab is in talks to merge OVO, an Indonesian digital payments company in which it owns shares, with an Ant Financial-backed peer to build heft and power ahead of rival Gojek, people familiar with the matter said.

A deal would see Singapore-based Grab buy a majority interest in Ant-backed Dana from Indonesian media conglomerate Elang Mahkota Teknologi (Emtek) and merge it with OVO, they said.

It could help OVO-Dana dominate Gojek in Indonesia's multi-billion dollar online payments market. OVO and Gojek have been vying for the top spot in payments since 2018, with Dana not far behind.

Grab and Gojek are the top two start-up brands in South-east Asia, valued at US$14 billion (S$19 billion) and US$10 billion respectively, according to sources. They compete in a host of areas including financial services, e-commerce, ride-hailing and food delivery.

"It's part of the Grab-Gojek battle," one source said.

The plan also points to intensifying competition in Indonesia's digital payments industry that is seeking to piggyback on the country's booming e-commerce market and 260 million people.

Grab and OVO declined to comment, while Dana said it does not comment on market rumours. Emtek, Ant Financial and SoftBank did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Finance Asia, citing sources, put OVO's latest valuation at US$2.9 billion.

The overall structure of the deal would need to be negotiated with the country's central bank due to foreign ownership restrictions, the sources said. - REUTERS

BUSINESS & FINANCE